The worst thing that could happen to any community is to have so many voters that are not fully informed of the background of candidates, and then have them vote for someone totally unknown to them, thereby electing an incompetent person. They hear comments from others and they accept their statements as true fact, and use that information on which to base their vote.
One proof of that is the little information people had about John Bonaventura, the Las Vegas Constable, and yet he won their votes.
The majority of voters decided to vote in the primaries for someone unknown to them and with limited experience, and against the incumbent, Robert “Bobby G” Gronauer.
In 1999, Bobby G – with almost three decades as a sergeant and supervisor with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department – decided to take the reigns of an agency that was operating with total lack of integrity and that was completely bankrupt; he was elected Las Vegas Constable, transforming the Las Vegas Constable’s Office into a well-funded agency and the pride of our community. He was, and still is considered to be, by his friends and former fellow officers, a man of great integrity with many innovative ideas.
Of course, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and to elect the person of his choice; after all, that’s what elections are for.
But in this particular case, many people didn’t have the slightest idea who John Bonaventura was; everything was just a matter of so-called name recognition. They probably didn’t notice the minor difference in the spelling of his name; they figured that Bonaventura must be related to District Court Judge Joseph Bonaventure – which in fact, is true – but that (being on the grace side of the judge) was not enough of a reason to elect a candidate to a position of trust.
Those who voted for John Bonaventura thought and believed that they were voting for the judge, meaning “Judge Joseph Bonaventure.”
It happened when Judge Bonaventure’s son, Joe, ran for the judgeship in Justice Court. Many people voted for him just because he is the elder judge’s son. The difference between these two cases is that the younger Bonaventure proved himself on the bench as a fair, just and courteous judge and not Daddy’s son.
At the time of the general election, voters still didn’t bother to compare the qualifications of the two candidates – John Bonaventura and Peter Gariano, a trained law enforcement officer, Las Vegas chief constable, and later a court marshal for the City of Henderson.
The people that voted for John Bonaventura apparently believed that the Constable’s Office is an agency of little importance and never realized the services that office provides to our community.
The Clark County commissioners are now facing a great controversy. Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani is asking for an ordinance change to abolish the Constable’s Office and for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police to take over the duties of constables.
In my personal opinion, that’s not the solution to the problem. Doesn’t Commissioner Giunchigliani realize that having Metro Police perform the duties of constables is going to add insult to injury? The first thing Sheriff Gillespie is going to do is to appear before the commission and request more money. Money nonexistent in the City of Las Vegas or any other place in Clark County. This community is just one step from being in total poverty. What else do they expect from the residents of this city: our blood?
Unless, of course, the seven county commissioners want to donate a portion of their salaries to the Metropolitan Police Department to cover the expenses.
The abolishment of the Constable’s Office will take effect at the end of John Bonaventura’s term in 2015; that is two more years of embarrassment to the City of Las Vegas. The best decision the commission can make is to recall Bonaventura and replace all personnel in that office to make this an appointed position, and bring back Bobby G to restore the reputation, integrity and financial status of the Las Vegas Constable’s Office.
Perly Viasmensky is the General Manager of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Perly Viasmensky, email her at pviasmensky@lasvegas tribune.com.